Before there was Daft Punk, Deadmau5, and Paul van Dyk, there was The Pet Shop Boys. Last night the Pet Shop Boys, lead singer Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe turned Strathmore into a fashion show/dance club in support of their 12th and newest album, Electric.
The most successful duo in UK music history (50 million albums sold), started off strong with the catchy song “Axis” from their album Electric. A screen on stage projected an orange cone that turned into a visual tunnel like we were on a roller coaster. The capacity crowd was immediately on its feet as soon as the concert started and no one sat down during the whole show.
Tennant and Lowe came on stage together wearing matching black spiky, rubber, square tops with black dunce hats and black glasses while standing behind the screen. The outfits reminded me as a cross between New Order’s video “True Faith” and something Lady Gaga would wear.
Tennant stood to the left of the stage and Lowe to the right. Lowe stood stoically at his keyboard/ computer for most of the night with his sunglasses on. Tennant was more interactive with the crowd than I thought he would be. Tennant yelled, “Washington!” to the crowd several times during the night and the crowd responded with roars.
Next was the song “One More Chance/Face Like That” from 1984 album Actually. The concert’s set varied from recent to early 80s.
The projector screen came down and the crowd went crazy as they got to see Tennant and Lowe and they launched into their hit song “Opportunities” – an anti-Margaret Thatcher song that stills hold up today.
During the song “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing,” the Pet Shop Boys emerged wearing Transformer-type masks with barbarian type horns. The audience was kept on its toes wondering what next interesting outfit the Pet Shop Boys would wear.
The Pet Shop Boys did a great job of interspersing their hits like “Opportunities,” “Suburbia,” “West End Girls,” “Rent,” “It’s a Sin,” “Domino Dancing,.” “Always on My Mind,” and “Go West.” The set flowed seamlessly.
One great number was the song “Thursday.” The two dancers had bright orange headpieces, orange shoes and blue suits on and danced the same numbers in separate open closets next to each other, on the left side of the stage. Tennant claimed the song was appropriate since it was indeed Thursday. A rapper joined the song onscreen too.
During “Love etc.” Tennant and Lowe were tied into a bed with only their heads showing as a projector showed shirtless bodies dancing around as if they were dancing. It was interesting watching heads perform without arms yet making it work.
The song “Rent” was sensual with the two dancers dancing behind a screen, covered up in silvery outfits, covering their faces. It’s a beautiful dance of longing and pushing away. As one audience member said to me, “The dancers are mesmerizing!” Tenant did a great job conveying emotion to the song as Lowe pressed the electronic keys near him.
Tennant’s voice sounded just like he does on the albums and he looked great. I can’t believe he is 59!Lowe is 53 and he also looks like age hasn’t reached him yet. It seems being a dance music pioneer is good for your health.
The Pet Shop Boys played songs from almost every album in the past 30 years, including their new one Electric.
Blinding laser lights, confetti, two professional dancers, incredible visual graphics, and artistic costumes competed for the attention of the audience. The color theme of the night was neon orange. The stage crew wore neon orange aka “Weird Science” clothes with orange glasses, the confetti was orange, and Tennant and Lowe also wore orange clothes throughout the set.
As I was leaving the concert, I saw a guy covered in sweat and orange confetti stuck to his cheek. He was dancing his heart out with a friend in front of me. I’d say this audience left very happy.
Set List (from setlist.fm):
2. One More Chance /Face Like That
3. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
4. Memory of the Future
7. Sample of “The Rite of Spring”
8. I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing
10. I’m Not Scared
12. West End Girls
16. Love Etc.
17. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)
20. It’s a Sin
21. Domino Dancing
22. Always on My Mind
23. Go West
Running time: One Hour and Forty Minutes, with no intermission.
The Pet Shop Boys played one night only on September 19, 2013, at The Music Center at The Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For future performances, check their calendar of events.
The Pet Shop Boys website.